U.N. teams with celebrities to fight TB

The United Nations health agency recently reported that it has enlisted the help of international celebrities in a new initiative to combat tuberculosis, a disease that claims the lives of more than one million people every year.

The World Health Organization’s Stop TB Partnership is partnering with celebrities from Georgia, Ghana, Jordan, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Sudan and South Africa to underscore the need for financial support to help fight the disease globally.

Jordanian actress Rania Ismail, Ghanaian pop singer Obour, Pakistani actor Behrooz Sabzwari, Sudanese television presenter Awad Ibrahim Awad, Georgian theatre director Zaal Chikobava, Nepalese actors Deepak Raj Giri and Deepa Shree Niraula, South African television personality Gerry Elsdon and Peruvian journalist Sonia Goldenberg have joined the WHO’s Stop TB Partnership in an effort to help raise both awareness and funding.

Earlier this year, the WHO reported that the number of people contracting TB around the world has, for the first time, declined, but also warned that current progress is at risk due to underfunding. The six month TB treatment course can cost as little as $25. Left untreated, however, the disease can be fatal.

The WHO’s 2011 Global Tuberculosis Control Report showed that the number of TB deaths worldwide has fallen to 1.4 million, after reaching a peak of 1.8 million in 2003.

The report showed that current progress is predominantly at risk because of the rise in multi-drug resistant TB, a form of the illness that fails to respond to standard first-line medication.